"Marines are taught to take care of their troops first, and that stuck with me when dealing with employees — treat them well, expect excellence from them and let them see their part in the future of the company and our vision."

—Harvey Rippy
President, Pool Stop

The story of Pool Stop is one of calculated risk. After he was laid off from a corporate job in Michigan in 2002, Harvey Rippy sought a new, more fulfilling role as an entrepreneur — the question was what and where.

Diligent market research led Rippy and his family to move cross-country to Rockwall, Texas, an underserved area in the Sun Belt with high growth prospects, especially for a pool business.

At the end of its first year, Pool Stop was a retail store with a modest service route of 50 accounts. In 2005, Rippy added a building division to the company. By 2008, Pool Stop had accrued 300 service accounts and won its first design award. And today, Pool Stop employs 45 people and services 750 pools a week.

That upward trajectory, even during a recession that deeply hurt the industry, can be credited several factors: high-quality service, the adoption of technology that steamlines business operations, an impressive showroom. But what impressed the AQUA 100 judges most is Pool Stop's compassion for those in the local community. Recently bereaved clients are provided with free pool care. The company sponsors the local veterans court, which provides a second chance to veterans who are facing prosecution for criminal conduct. And when a natural disaster hit Rockwall, Pool Stop was there to help pick up the pieces.

"In late 2015, our area with hit by a tornado, causing major damage to many of our customers' homes," Rippy says. "We organized a volunteer group to remove debris from pools that were still operational and drain and remove debris from those that weren't. It was an amazing experience to see the entire community band together to help support our neighbors."

For Rippy, running a business isn't just about making money — equally important is the opportunity to do good in the world.

Tags: AQUA 100
Cailley Hammel is Managing Editor of AQUA Magazine.